Tips for Dealing with Aggressive Debt Collectors
The Rosenthal Act, a law specific to California, prohibits collections agencies from engaging in abusive activities. But if debt collectors are not following the law and become too insistent, you should know that you have a legal right to make them stop.
Debt collectors from collection agencies are prohibited from the following:
- Calling repeatedly
- Calling at unreasonable times
- Use of obscene language
- Threats of violence
- Claiming that your debts are higher than they really are
- Claiming that you’ll be imprisoned if you do not pay by a certain date
- Adding illegal interest or fees
If debt collectors engage in any of those behaviors, you have a legal right to take action. The following are steps you can take if collection agencies are harassing you:
- Tell them to stop. Under the Rosenthal Act, you have the right to simply tell collectors to stop contacting you. Send a letter to the collections agency asking it to cease all communication. Agency employees are then prohibited from contacting you.
- Document illegal behavior. Document all violations. Record what happened, when it happened and if there were any witnesses. Try to have a friend or family member witness the harassment to testify on your behalf, if needed.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC oversees collection agencies. When filing an official complaint, include copies of all offending material you received, in addition to the name of the collection agency, name of the collector and the dates and times of the conversations. Lastly, send the FTC complaint to the creditor and collection agency. The agency may offer to cancel the debt to prevent liability.
- Sue the debt collector. The final and most drastic option is to file a lawsuit against the collection agency. This is usually only a good idea if the behavior has been extremely harmful to you or your loved ones.
If you feel you are the victim of aggressive and illegal behavior from a debt collection agency, meet with an experienced Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible.